I think coming home from college for winter break during one’s senior year is a special flavor of nostalgia. It is possibly the last period of time one might blissfully enjoy without the stresses of school or the uncertainty of the looming ‘real world.’ There really isn’t much to do in my hometown of Ardsley, NY (situated in Westchester County). Between sleeping in my childhood bedroom and seeing old friends, I often find myself picking through the piles of discs that make up my old CD collection, returning to the albums I’d listen to on the bus to middle school or in my room while doing homework.
I hadn’t even been home for a full day in late December when NYU sophomore and Safeliving guitarist/frontman Marco Chan sent me the link his band’s new EP: The Flowers in Your Brain, a collection of songs that might have fit in nicely between my copies of From First To Last’s Aesthetic (EP) and Lullabies to Paralyze by Queens of the Stone Age. Hailing from Yonkers, New York located just north of The Bronx, Safeliving, along with a handful of other bands, represent the strongest resurgence of punk music coming out of that area since 2008. The Westchester scene slowed down a bit when repeated noise complaints and changes in management led makeshift punk venues like Hawthorne American Legion Hall and The Westchester People’s Action Coalition (WESPAC) to stop putting on shows in the late 2000s.
However, it seems that every 7-8 years the Westchester scene finds a way to show signs of life. Musically, The Flowers in Your Brain EP falls within the pop-punk idiom of the mid 2000s, perhaps the golden age of the genre. Chan’s vocal delivery is nonchalant without being lazy. He’s aided by gang vocals and female harmonies at times. Lyrically, the EP is a bit more nuanced (can you tell that Chan is an English Education major?) – his lyrics deal with themes of reluctant acceptance, self-doubt and fleeting youth all within frequent foliage references. With Chan living in the city for school and the rest of the band based in Yonkers, Safeliving is poised to become one of the only bands in recent memory to successfully bridge the Westchester and NYC scenes.